Keeping a clean space is good for your general health and well-being. Because we consistently seek value at the margins around here, it’s worth examining how we can incrementally improve our state of mind and possibly feel better physically simply by removing clutter from our living spaces.
We’ve all had the experience of giving a bunch of old clothes away or simply throwing a closet full of junk away. It’s freeing. We feel lighter. There is good reason for the feeling. Clutter is simply a reminder of the things you haven’t done yet. Papers that need to be filed, objects that need to be put away or thrown out, clothes that need to be washed. Being continually bombarded by visual distractions means we’re less able to focus on our work or relationships. Remnants of half-started hobbies remind us of failures, pants that don’t fit make us dissatisfied with our bodies. From the New York Times:
The spectrum from cleanliness to messiness includes large numbers of people who are chronically disorganized and suffering either emotionally, physically or socially. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help: a recent study of hoarders showed that six months’ therapy resulted in a marked decline in clutter in the patient’s living space.
You don’t have to be a full blown hoarder to make a change. In my home, I don’t want anything around that I haven’t used in 18 months. That includes tools, clothes…just about anything. With technology moving faster than ever, even photos can be safely tossed. There is nothing quite like a clean, crisp space. From huffingtonpost.com:
A clean house isn’t just “nice to have,” it’s actually a necessity for good mental and physical health. According to a study published in Time, the Indiana University department of Physical Activity, led by associate professor Nicole Keith, discovered a correlation between clean houses and healthy people.
Organized houses and workspaces make for more time in the day. How much time do you waste looking for a particular shirt you were going to wear today or file that you need for tomorrow’s meeting? No one appreciates the additional stress of frantic scavenger hunts in the morning. From experiencelife.com:
It’s hard for me to even imagine talking about clutter without talking about the emotional benefits of decluttering,” says Hazel Thornton, professional organizer and owner of Organized for Life, a consulting service in Albuquerque, N.M. “There’s no one who calls me who isn’t stressed out, frustrated, or feeling inadequate, incompetent in their job, or guilty. It’s all about emotions — definitely it’s more about emotions than it is about the stuff.
Call me cold, but I dig minimalistic style. You can keep the knick-knacks and trinkets. Give me clean, open spaces, and I’m a happy man. I don’t feel a need to keep junk from my childhood or from my baseball career. It can all go.
Your house should be a respite from the world. A place where you want to enjoy your life, a place where you can enjoy your family, your friends, your spiritual practice, whatever you’re into. But if you’re not into the stuff that’s in your house, then it’s got to go. It doesn’t tell the story of who you are.
Physical items are somewhat meaningless to me in general, but I know I’m not the readers of this blog. I certainly won’t judge you if you like stuffed animals or Lladros. I’m simply suggesting that you have one clock in your bedroom instead of four. Maybe a single apron in your kitchen will suffice. That ab roller under your bed that you hasn’t seen the light of day since you watched the accompanying VHS video can go now. You’re not to going to pull it out next year. For some, avoidance of pulling the trigger can be related to discomfort with change. From greatist.com:
…some organization experts say difficulty throwing stuff away isn’t just about selfishness: It’s often a way to avoid change. A house full of clutter may also reflect the procrastination habits of a person who’s just too lazy to get rid of ticket stubs and used garbage bags.
Our living spaces are an extension of us. We feel better clean, and we are better performers in luminous environments than in cramped, cluttered ones.